THINGS: The Podcast

THINGS: A Global Conversation features curators, makers, and other experts from around the world in conversation with people and objects from the Old Salem and MESDA collection. You’re invited to join the conversation via Zoom. Our things may be old, but the lessons we can learn from them are as contemporary and relevant as ever!

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What can an 18th century stove and a 21st century work of ceramic art teach us about keeping our houses warm and our climate cool?  

Featuring Tara Logue, Old Salem Potter and Education Coordinator and Jessica Steinhäuser, Ceramic Artist and Kachelöfen Innovator at Stone House Kachelöfen.

Additional resources:

Stone House Kachelöfen

@KachelofenArt on Instagram

Kachelöfen in the Old Salem Collection


What can the world’s oldest bagpipe chanter and a well-worn copy of Sheraton teach us about immigration past and present?

Featuring Daniel Ackermann, Chief Curator of Old Salem and MESDA, and Stephen Jackson, Curator of Decorative Arts at the National Museum of Scotland.

Additional resources:

Iain Dall’s Chanter at the National Museum of Scotland

Robert Walker’s copy of Sheraton in the MESDA Collection

Reproducing the Iain Dall Chanter 


What can a silver coffeepot crafted from Andean silver in South Carolina a Peruvian textile woven by an indigenous artisan with chinoiserie motifs teach us about Globalization?

Featuring Gary Albert, Director of MESDA Research, and Dennis Carr, Chief Curator of American Art at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

Additional resources:

The Petrie coffeepot in the MESDA Collection

Woven cover by a now unknown Indigenous artisan in the MFA Boston Collection

Art of the Americas at the MFA Boston

Made in the Americas: The New World Discovers Asia edited by Dennis Carr

Potosi: The Silver City that Changed the World by Kris Lane

Preservation, Trauma and Memory

What can an upstairs room in Winston-Salem and a war-torn building in Beirut reveal about our need to remember and preserve places associated with trauma?

Featuring Frank Vagnone, President, Old Salem an MESDA, and Nelly Abboud, Founder of MuseoLab Lebanon.

Additional resources:

The Hidden Town Project at Old Salem

Beirut’s Yellow House (Official Site)

Indigenous Cultures

What can a heavy brush once pushed across a rough floor and a basket woven by an now-unknown woman ancestor and accessioned into a museum collection tell us about the resilience of first peoples in the face of colonial efforts to erase them.

Featuring Watson Harlan, Cherokee historian and member of the Old Salem Cherokee Advisory Committee and Dr. Julie Gough, Artist and Curator of Indigenous Cultures
The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

Additional Information:

Old Salem’s Cherokee Advisory Committee

Dr. Julie Gough’s Work

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery

The Tools of the Trade: Resistance and the Decorative Arts of Enslavement

What can a whip made and used in Wachovia and a brass instrument used to force feed enslaved men and women during the Middle Passage teach us about resistance.

Featuring Michael J. Bramwell, Visiting Guest Curator at the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts at Old Salem and Dr. Jon F. Sensbach, Professor of History at the University of Florida. Moderated by Joel Cook, Education Coordinator for Hidden Town.

Additional Information:

The Hidden Town Project at Old Salem

A Separate Canaan by Jon F. Sensbach

“Potters Field” by Michael J. Bramwell in Where Is All My Relations?: The Poetics of Dave the Potter

“This Abominable Traffic”: Physicians on Slavery at the Center for the History of Medicine at Harvard’s Countway Library


What can a painting from Paris and a desk and bookcase from West Virginia teach us about the necessity and perils of maintaining neutrality.

Featuring Catherine Carlisle, Director of MESDA Engagement, and David Pullins, Associate Curator of European Paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Moderated by Daniel Ackermann, Chief Curator of Old Salem and MESDA.

Additional Information:

John Shearer’s Desk and Bookcase at MESDA

The Furniture of John Shearer by Elizabeth A. Davison

Jacques-Louis David’s portrait of Antoine Laurent and Marie Anne Lavoisier at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Portrait of the Lavoisiers in Met Kids

Jacques-Louis David in the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History